by Krissy Hopkins
September 17, 2009
You could say the weather was against me that day. I woke up in the morning to pouring rain and a temperature in the 50s. Not exactly the best conditions for planting wetland grasses on an island in the Chesapeake Bay. But nonetheless, the Baltimore Aquarium volunteer packet did say RAIN or shine.
So I hopped in the car with some fellow co-workers and began the hour-and-a-half drive from Annapolis to the planting site at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. I had never been to Eastern Neck before, but I will surely return, preferably on a warm, sunny day! The refuge, located at the mouth of the Chester River on the Eastern Shore, is one of the top five waterfowl habitats in Maryland.
I arrived at the parking lot to find the hardy Aquarium staff ready to load us onto a boat and shuttle us to the planting site. So I suited up in layers and raingear and prepared for an interesting boat ride. The river was a bit choppy, so the ride was a cross between white water rafting and riding a rollercoaster with a bucket of water dumped over your head every five minutes. Taking a ride in a washing machine might be a similar experience.
Thoroughly drenched, I arrived at the planting site ready to get to work. My mission that day was to plant two species of grass on the eroding sandbar separating Hail Creek from the Chester River. We broke into teams and started planting. My team had a diviler, a feeder and a tucker. The diviler dug the hole, the feeder put fertilizer in the hole, and the tucker planted the plug of grass.
We repeated the process over and over and over until half of the sandbar was planted with new grass. The other half would be planted by more volunteers the next day.
After a long day of planting, we boarded the boat back to the mainland. Soaked to the bone, the Aquarium staff was nice enough to give us some trash bags to sit on or in, depending on our preferences. I went home knowing that through the wind and the driving rain, my blades of grass will remain.